Biochar as feeding char
In animal husbandry and fertiliser management
In Europe, 90% of biochar is first used in animal husbandry (see Joachim Gerlach, Ithaka Journal 1/2012). Biochar is used in silage, as animal feed, in litter, for manure treatment or as a compost additive. In all these areas of application, biochar is intended to improve animal health, reduce odour nuisance, improve the quality of manure and, where possible, reduce the loss of nutrients that are harmful to the climate and the environment.
This is precisely why coal for animal feed is subject to strict quality control. It must be free of toxins, in particular all tar substances and their derivatives must be completely expelled. Last but not least, heavy metals are undesirable in animal feed, which is why the raw material must also be carefully selected. In order to define a quality standard, the European Biochar Certificate (EBC) was established, which sets the standards for high-quality biochar.
Cascade use of biochar
Particularly interesting and sustainable is the cascade use of biochar in animal husbandry and fertilizer management, where the adsorption capacity of biochar plays an outstanding role.
The process starts
At the beginning, biochar is added to the silage, which prevents the formation of mycotoxins. At the same time, pesticides are fixed and the formation of butyric acid is prevented, resulting in cleaner fermentation and a noticeable improvement in feed quality.
The biochar then enters the feed via the silage and ensures an improved digestion process of the animals. The feed intake is increased, which results in an increase in weight. This also reduces the formation of greenhouse gases
Improved stable hygiene
The biochar is additionally mixed into the litter, which binds the liquid nutrients and reduces ammonia emissions. Decay is reduced, which in turn improves stable hygiene. After just a few days, the odour pollution is noticeably reduced..
Making manure “better”
Biochar can also be mixed into the liquid manure, which binds volatile nutrients and improves the microbial environment. This reduces nutrient losses, which improves the fertilizing effect of the liquid manure. In addition, the liquid manure becomes almost odourless.
After absorption of the manure (solid-liquid separation), the solids are composted together with the stable bedding, which produces valuable black earth thanks to the high proportion of biochar. The incorporation of this black soil and the stabilized liquid manure into the soil improves the water retention capacity, the filter performance and the aeration of the soil, which results in higher fertility. Soil acidification is prevented and the leaching of fertilizers and pesticides into groundwater is reduced.
The advantages at a glance:
- Improved health and increased vitality of the animals
- Increased feed efficiency
- Increase in feed intake
- Increase in weight
- Strengthening of the immune system
- Increase in milk quality in cows due to improved udder health
- Reduction of diarrhoea and diseases of the hooves and footpad
- Increase in egg production and egg quality in poultry
- Improvement of meat quality
- Decrease in mortality rate
- Significant increase in milk ingredients
- Improved stable hygiene
- Enormous odour reduction of the liquid manure
- Reduction of costs for medicines and veterinarians
Recent contributions on feed additives
Two farms use biochar in their stables: one with sheep, vineyards and crops and the other a pig farm. One farm works according to organic guidelines, the other according to conventional methods as part of BG Iseli, a Swiss cantonal company…
The currently most promising possibility to use biochar in agriculture in an economically and ecologically beneficial way is by cascade use in animal husbandry. This is the conclusion reached by the authors Schmidt, Kammann and Gerlach in their book…
Swiss farmers have been testing biochar for litter and as a feed additive for years. The experiments will be scientifically monitored within the framework of the international project “Carbofeet”. Biochar is used there as a feed material for regulating digestion and preventing…
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